Summary

SEL assessments are a valuable investment, but when not implemented with a strengths-based, growth-oriented focus, they can be more harmful than helpful. This brief is designed to help practitioners and policymakers make informed choices. Our national advisory group of educators recommends:

  • Begin with a strong vision and intentionality.
  • Assess social and emotional competencies on the basis of strengths, not deficits.
  • Make sure you have a positive organizational culture and climate.
  • Use an equity lens to mitigate bias and promote appreciation of diversity.
  • Recognize and promote adult social and emotional competence.
  • Assess for growth, rather than finite outcomes.
  • Help adults use data effectively.
  • Use SEL data to continuously improve practice.
  • Authentically engage and collaborate with stakeholders about assessment.
  • Use data to inform both universal and differentiated educational approaches.

Each recommendation includes a rationale, suggested actions, and reflection questions.

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